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Sexual minorities face severe neglect in flood relief efforts

KARACHI: The minority communities have been facing severe hardships in getting due attention in the ongoing relief efforts in the Sindh province, and one of the most neglected groups is the sexual minorities group, an assessment finds.

The assessment by the NGO Roshni Helpline shows that in almost all areas affected by the recent floods there are a dozen of households each locality of sexual minority groups including khawaja siras, transgenders and others. However, due to the prevalent trends of less social acceptability and lack of state recognition, raising voice for their rights has become almost impossible for them.

The findings were shared with the Gender Interactive Alliance (GIA), a Karachi-based organisation for khwaja siras. The alliance agreed that the transgender community was badly affected by the floods in interior Sindh last year and this year. Their homes were destroyed, and they had no food to eat and no clean water to drink. In addition to the individuals and khwaja sira households mentioned in this report, there are several other similar areas of Sindh where other khwaja siras have been affected by the floods, the report finds.

President Roshni Helpline Muhammad Ali said that those in the community who had lost their homes and other possessions were more socially and economically vulnerable. They were not welcomed in relief camps and did not have easy access to services, which may be available to other internally displaced persons (IDPs), he said.

“National identity cards are required for accessing relief services i.e. Watan Cards, shelter and non-food items and rehabilitation,” Ali said, adding, “Since most of the transgenders do not have national identity cards, they cannot register at relief camps or qualify for damage compensation announced by the government.”

According to the report, majority of transgenders have left their homes with little or no possessions. They moved to areas considered safe from floods. These areas include Sukkur, Khairpur, Larkana, Nawabshah, Hyderabad, and Karachi. They are either hosted by other transgender communities at these locations or they look for cheap rental accommodations. Those who cannot afford their own accommodation, stay with the host community thereby putting pressure on available resources. Most transgenders thus, indicated that they require food, shelter and healthcare.
Source: Daily Times